New Year’s Resolution

This is not really a new years resolution.  I just thought, since this is the first post of 2012, I’d make it see topical and suggesting I’m into self improvement, however temporary.  Given my headache and the Robbie Burns Day sized drams I had last night, one might suggest I should be into self improvement, but I don’t really see anything wrong. . .

Nope, this is about plans for the year’s brewing.  Or at least the next few months.  Or weeks, depending upon how busy I get.  And given how meandering my posts are, it could be about any number of other things.

But first, the beer.

I’ve not brewed since before Christmas, when I finished off the year with a Double IPA.  It was a clone of Pliny the Elder, which is apparently the best beer in America (if you go buy the voters in Zymurgy’s annual poll, clearly dominated by hopheads).  It used over 1 lb of hops to make what was supposed to be 5 Gallons but ended up more like 3.75 because so much of the beer was lost to the massive amount of hoppy material and trub at the bottom of the carboy.  It was remarkably good and also quite strong–10%ABV.  Sadly, that level of alcohol was too much for the poor yeast to handle, and it has so far been unable to carbonate.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, when you bottle homebrew you add a tiny bit of sugar so that the yeast will eat it, fart out CO2, and because the bottle is sealed, that CO2 is absorbed into the beer, thereby creating fizz when you pour it.  If the yeast can’t handle the level of alcohol–and 10% is quite strong for beer yeast–you end up with flat beer).

So I need to get some yeast with cajones.

The other beer I brewed was a winter warmer based upon Avery’s winter beer (I can’t remember the name right now but it is probably something beginning with “Old.”)  For this recipe, I needed bullion hops which apparently impart blackberry like flavours.  The guy at the homebrew shop, who is usually pretty good, said since they didn’t have Bullion, I should use Summit, which is similar.  He was wrong.  Summit imparts tropical fruit flavours, which clashed with the malty profile of the beer.  It could have worked–imagine mangoes in some kind of brown sugar syrup. MMM.  But so far it’s a little strange. I know the hops will fade over time and the beer, clocking in at around 8%ABV, will mature to something lovely.  Maybe next winter.

So now I have a few things to plan.  I have wanted to brew a Scotch Ale for a while (really, I should have done that yesterday–Burns Day–but had to work and of course then drink).  My previous scotch ale, a Wee Heavy brewed in 2010, has become remarkably good over time, even though it was a little rough to start.  If I brew this one soon, I’ll be able to let it mellow over the year and next winter it will be very nice.

I also need another lower alcohol session beer.  I tried to brew a Parti-Gyle batch–where you split the batch, using the first runnings of the wort to make a strong Olde Ale, and the later runnings to make a lighter session bitter.  But my calculations were totally fucked up, so I ended up with two strange beers, with lots of off flavours and a very amateurish outcome.  (Even though I’m an amateur brewer, I can do better).  So I want to make something simple, a low alcohol session bitter that I can drink without worrying about one bottle messing me up.  (He says, nurturing a hangover.)

From there, I need to make a new version of my IPA.  I’ve had less than stellar results on this one in the past two batches, so brewing a smaller batch and getting back to basics should be good.

I also have a pack of Trappist Ale yeast in the fridge which I need to put into a decent Dubbel (my last one was a success, but a half batch only goes so far!).  And use the yeast cake to brew something bigger, heavier and maltier, like a Belgian Strong Dark ale.  Again, I’m returning to older recipes, to tweak and rework until I have it perfectly tuned.

Then, it will be time for spring brewing.  I’m tempted to try a lager or pilsner because they’re such different beers to brew (needing colder fermentation temperatures and different flavour profiles).  However, while interesting from a brewing perspective, I don’t find them all that interesting from a drinking perspective!  Maybe a farmhouse ale or wheat beer (or both) to sock away for the summer.

And maybe I’ll share some with my students who I know are creeping me on line (and who have jacked up my blog’s hits).  Last class at the prof’s home/brewery?  Sounds more interesting than it is, actually.

Ok, procrastination over.  Work now, brew later.


About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
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